Study points to cannabis' effect on emotion processing

Posted on March 2, 2016

Photo: flickr

The complex biochemistry of cannabis and how it affects the brain is only beginning to be understood. Lucy Troup, assistant professor of psychology at Colorado State University, has set out to answer specifically how, if at all, cannabis use affects one's ability to process emotions.

A study published Feb. 29 in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that cannabis does, in fact, significantly affect users' ability to recognize, process and empathize with human emotions like happiness, sadness and anger. But the results also suggest that the brain may be able to counteract these effects depending on whether the emotions are explicitly, or implicitly detected.

"We're not taking a pro or anti stance; but we just want to know, what does it do? It's really about making sense of it," Troup said.

The study seems to suggest that the brain's ability to process emotion is affected by cannabis, but there may be some compensation that counteracts those differences. There's no difference between users and non-users when they're directed to a specific emotion. But on a deeper level of emotion processing -- depicted by the ability to empathize -- the response is reduced in cannabis users.

Category(s):Drug Addiction, Emotional Abuse, Other

Source material from Colorado State University

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